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tv   American Artifacts International Spy Museum Exhibit on Cold War Berlin  CSPAN  June 29, 2020 2:35pm-3:06pm EDT

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>> the senate health committee holds a hearing tuesday to get an update on the coronavirus response and plans to reopen the u.s. economy. witnesses include white house coronavirus task force members dr. stephen hahn, dr. anthony fauci, and dr. robert redfield. live coverage begins at 10 eastern on c-span 3. online at or listen live on the free c-span radio app. >> each week american art facts take viewers into archives, museums, and historic sights across the country. we visit the international spy museum in washington, d.c. to tour their exhibit on cold war berlin. our guide is lead cure rator als albin. >> hello, i'm dr. alexis albion, and i'm a curator historian here
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at the international spy museum in washington, d.c. we have the largest collection of espionage and intelligence-related artifacts in the world, and today we're going to be looking at cold war berlin. now, after world war ii end ed, germany was divided between victors. that's the united states, france, united kingdom, and the soviet union. soviet union occupied the east and the other three countries the west. and that included the capital city of berlin, which was also divided into four sectors, one for each of the victors, again, with the soviets occupying the eastern zone of berlin, and the three western powers occupying the western zones of berlin. and this start of the division of germany, and the division of ber ly berlin after the war. now, that division became concrete with the erection of
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the berlin wall in 1961. now, the wall was put up by the eastern germans offensively to keep people out. in the years after world war ii and with the occupation of east germany and east berlin by the soviets, hundreds of thousands of people in the east had been fleai fleeing to the west. and these numbers became larger and larger. it was a terrible drain of intelligence and of skills in the east, and these numbers were reaching very very large numbers in the months leading up to august 1961, now, the east germans called what we call the ber ly berlin wall, the anti-fit did
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keep millions of east germans in as well. what's important to realize is that the city of berlin was completely isolated within east germany. we had west berlin, which after the war was set up with a political and economic system that was democratic and capitalist, completely surrounded by communist east germany. berlin became a symbol of the division between east and west and between the communist and democratic systems within the cold war and it was a hot spot for many many years during the cold war of that tension between east and west. now, the berlin wall itself was about 96 miles long, completely
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separating west berlin from east berlin, and completely surrounding east berlin, and again, cutting it off from the rest of east germany. we have a couple of pieces of the actual berlin wall over here that i would like to show you. we have two authentic pieces of the berlin wall here. they were donated to the museum right outside east berlin. we shipped them to washington, d.c. from germany, and we put them here. most people when they think of the berlin wall, they think of the graffiti, and the color and the designs on the wall. you can see these are completely plain. that's because they were on the east side where people were not allowed to graffiti on the wall. in fact, that would have incurred some pretty severe
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penalties, and one reason why they did not want people drawing on the wall was because having the wall be completely plain actually made it easier for people, for the guards who were guarding the border to see people. it made them more visible against plain light gray or white backgrounds, so seeing them without graffiti actually should remind us of the reason why the wall was put up, and keep people in. now, before the berlin wall was built, several million, up to 3 million people actually crossed the border from east to west. after the berlin wall was put up, people didn't stop trying to get out of east germany. about 100,000 people tried to get out. about half that number were successful. we have some great stories about people who were successful in getting across the wall.
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to attempt to cross the berlin wall took a lot of bravery, of course, and also a lot of creativity and imagination. in truth, the berlin wall was not just one wall, actually two walls, with a strip in the middle that was known as the death strip, which could be guarded by guard dogs, or watch towers and so on, so we actually had one wall, a death trip and another wall. getting across that was an extremely difficult feat. now, people came up amazingly creative ways to get across that wall. we have a few examples, two families who actually built hot air balloons and were able to float across into west germany. they made the balloon part out of, you know, sheets and other pieces of material which they stitched together and two
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families actually were able to make that trip. we have another extraordinary story here about 3 brothers who each managed to cross the border in different ways. one brother floated across the river on an air mattress. another brother was able to zip line across the border, took fishing line, connected to a steel cable, and shot it across the border, using a bow and roar and used that as a zip line. the third brother was able to fly across the border with a very small light airplane. his other brothers met him on the other side, and the three brothers were reunited. these stories are stories of success, people who managed to make it across to freedom, but of course there were many stories that ended in tragedy, and let's go and look at some of those now. at least 140 people were killed
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trying to cross the berlin wall. some of those people were killed by border guards, as they tried to climb the wall. they tried to cross the river as they just approached the wall. they were sad stories about people who were shot there and died at the wall, but some of the most tragic stories were about people who tried to cross and wall and whose deaths were covered up. you see, trying to escape from east germany was a crime, and it was seen as that terrible reflection on the state, on the co co communism in general. we have three stories here about people who died at the wall, and their stories were then discovered up. one really tragic story, i think, is about gerald p ir, hea
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worker in west berlin, and one night it appears he might have had too much to drink, and he stumbled into the area near the wall, stumbled close to the wall, and the guards there from the east shouted at him, warned him to go away. he was scared off by that, and started running. he was then shot 177 times, and
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had never returned. they went so far as to show her a file where they had staged photographs of her husband's car, which they said had been broken into violently. this was entirely made up. the wife didn't think it was sufficient, but again, she wasn't able to find out the truth until decades later. let's go look at another method by which people tried to escape from east berlin over here. one method for trying to escape from east to west berlin going across, and through check points was actually to hide within cars. here we have a cut away of a very popular car in germany at the time. you can see some of the hiding spaces which people would try to fit themselves into in order to evade border guards.
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can you imagine fitting yourself into the wheel well of a car. sometimes for hours on end without having to give it away. of course not everybody succeeded in this. border guards became very aware that people were trying to hide inside cars and would search them methodically, sometimes taking them apart completely, but when they did catch people, we know that sometimes they would take photos and show where they were. we have some of the photos and you can see women, children, adults of all kind and the amazing places where they would try to hide. strasse, anybody in the country would have to be aware they were going to be spied upon. let's look at some of the ways
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in which that happened. here we are in a hotel room in east berlin, supposed to be the palace hotel, a hotel especially for foreign guests, and had rooms in the hotel that were completely under surveillance by the strasse, the nickname was the strasse nest. we have wonderful artifacts that can show you the length they went to spy on visitors at the hotel like this. this looks like an ordinary coo coo clock. of course it's not. it's been modified. behind the window is a tiny pinhole. now, behind that pinhole, would be this camera, a very rare piece, and a wonderful piece, it's a through the wall camera, and somebody that would be located on the other side of this wall looking through these
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eye pieces here, this long section here would be going through the wall and the lens at the end would be right behind the pinhole in the clock camera here. so while you were sitting in your hotel, you would be being spied upon all the time by somebody behind the wall. there are lots of artifacts in this room, and every single one of them was some kind of a device or concealment or surveillance. now, what's the best thing to use addss a concealment, someth that you would never think would conceal anything suspicious. we've got a few of these pieces here. one of them is a walnut shell. a bowl of walnut shells on a table in your apartment. who would think anything suspicious about that? well, one of these walnut shells here actually contains a one-time pad. it's a piece of paper with codes
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on it that could be used for communicating in code. one time pads were important ways of communicating secretly because they were completely unbreakable. only somebody who had exactly the same pad on the other side would be able to break the code and read the secret message. now, this bowl of wall nunuts w actually in the apartment of somebody in west germany who was -- and in fact, the restroom and security who were looking at the apartment and investigating it had an idea that this bowl of wa walnuts might not be what it looked like. they took a uv light and shined it over every single walnut, and from one of them, there was a glow, and that's because the glue that was used to stick the walnut together was under a uv light, and they were able to find the one time pat.
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here's another object you might not suspect at all as anything other than an ordinary iron, but once again, it was a concealment device. an agent living in west germany had this iron in her the bottom of the iron came out. and again she could keep in there some papers, one-time pads, maybe again. and what's clever about this is if somebody did come into the apartment and was looking around, she was able to incinerate the evidence of her espionage very easily by simply plugging in the iron. we've got a number of pieces of clothing here which are again concealments for cameras or for other things. and one of my favorites is the pair of gloves here that concealed an adapted minox camera. mini cameras like this were usually used with two hands. you needed to use a second hand to wind the film on.
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but the stasi were actually able to adapt the minox camera to be able to be used by one hand. what's important that is that it means it can be concealed in things like gloves, so that it can be activated with just one hand and therefore it wouldn't look suspicion if you've got a camera that you can activate with one hand, take secret photos and do surveillance. of course even when you're visiting the international spy museum, you are under surveillance when you are in east berlin, and that surveillance can be seen in our stasi office down here. here we are in our stasi office, where a person could actually watch surveillance feed taking place in the hotel room. we have a lot of different artifacts in here all of which reflect the stasi's credible
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expertise in doing surveillance. one of my favorite artifacts here is our bra camera. it was actually the invention of four stasi female officers. we have the file that shows actually how this was invented, and they made a proposal to the stasi, because they said, especially during the summer months, really wasn't any clothing that helped women conceal surveillance cameras on their body that would be unobtrusive. and they actually devised this camera. you can see the lens is right in the middle. there's a wire that comes out from behind. and the camera could be activated with this plunger here that would be in the pocket of your summer dress.
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we have actually some surveillance photos that were taken by this camera, which you can see in the back. and the four women were given a reward for creating this, and as far as we know the bra camera was used. it had a code name of meadow. we've got a number of other artifacts here, but some of our really exceptional artifacts are over on this side. the chief of the stasi's foreign intelligence branch was marcus wolf, a notorious spy master. he ran the foreign intelligence branch for over 30 years and was a master of doing so. one of his techniques that he developed was developing people who called romeo spies. these were men and women who were specially trained to seduce their targets. they targeted secretaries at nato, other maybe not so young but maybe women who were a
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little bit older in their 30s, for example, and was able to seduce them and get lots of intelligence out of them. the foreign intelligence service under marcus wolf had some extraordinary successes infiltrating the west german government even up to the very highest levels of the west german chancellorship. now, marcus wolf had a reputation also in the west for being extremely elusive. his nickname was the man without a face. and that was because although western intelligence knew of him, they didn't know what he looked like. they scoured photos coming out of east germany to find what this man looked like, and it was not until the very end of the cold war that they were actually able to identify him. we have some artifacts from marcus wolf himself. here's his full dress uniform here. and we also have these elk
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horns, what are they doing here? well, marcus wolf had a summer house outside of berlin, which he liked to use as a place to bring people so they would feel comfortable, and he could debrief them and find out all kinds of information from them. while they were sitting in his dasha having a beer perhaps outside on the terrace, they were being recorded all the time. and the elk horns had a bug planted right in the back. we also have these beer coasters here which belonged to marcus wolf. the leadership in east germany all had bunkers, where they could retreat to if there was any kind of threat of a nuclear attack. marcus wolf also had his bunker and he turned it into a beer house. he had these beer coasters specially made. they have this little cartoonish figure on here of lynx, which
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was his nickname. stasi officers obviously had to undergo a lot of training. we have a wonderful artifact here which all stasi officers would have received as part of that training. let's go take a look. what we have on display here is called a stasi criminalist kit. now, espionage was of course a crime, so how do you catch criminals with a criminalist kit? anybody who was training to be a spy capturer in east berlin would have taken a course at humboldt university in east berlin and at the end of the course they would have received this complete kit which was everything you would need to catch a spy. you can see in it a lot of pretty mundane articles, a hammer, a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, rubber gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints, for
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example, some little test tubes and other glass bottles where you might be able to store hair and fiber samples, some pouches to be able to put any kind of documents that you might find along the way. basically, it's an entire kit for a spy capturer. now, in you were caught as a spy, there were serious consequences in east berlin. let's go take a look at our interrogation room and see what might have happened to you. this is a prison door from a prison outside of east berlin. it's the actual door from one of the prison cells. this prison house the local prisoners, that might be anybody from someone who had tried to escape from east berlin to
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someone who had been reported on maybe by one of their neighbors or co-workers for something some ideas, some thoughts that might not be compatible with the communist system, someone who might be a suspected of having some links with the west, anything of that nature. people would be brought into the prison, objective to interrogation, they might stay there for days, months, possibly years. now, the stasi did not believe in physical torture. they developed their own type of interrogation methods that focused much more on the psychological. in the prison, somebody might be subjected to very cold temperatures or perhaps they would not be allowed to sleep for very long. now, they would be asked to lie on a very hard bed in a particular position with their hands by their sides. if they moved at all, if they tried to roll over, the guards would shout at them and they had to maintain that position. it was all part of the strategy
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for breaking somebody down psychologically so that they would give the information which the stasi wanted, perhaps confess to crimes which they did or did not commit. even after somebody was released from the prison, they might still remain a suspect. and the stasi had a really unique way of keeping tabs on them. we can take a look at that story next. now, after stasi brought someone in for questioning, one other piece of information they might be collecting would be that person's scent. they might have this person sit on a chair with a little piece of material, usually it was a yellow piece of material on the chair. after they were finished talking to them they would collect that piece of material and they would store it in a jar on a shelf with their name on it judge unfortunate in case perhaps in
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the future they needed to track that person. dogs were specially trained to track these smells. we have some of these scent jars here. as you can see with the yellow material inside them. the stasi had hundreds of these from different people that they stored in their headquarters. we have another artifact here of a similar nature. it's called a dog hormone kit. again, if the stasi wanted to track somebody around the city, they might spray some female dog hormones on the mat outside their apartment, or maybe even under the door as the person walked out of their apartment they would step on it, get the dog hormone on their shoes. they had specially trained male dogs who could track these hormones through the city sometimes even for days. in 1989 the berlin wall fell. east germany doesn't exist today.
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the wall doesn't exist today. i remember very well when the berlin wall fell. but i know that increasingly visitors to the museum don't remember the berlin wall, don't remember east berlin, don't remember the cold war. and so here at the museum, we have this exhibit on cold war berlin, which to many of our visitors will be learning about something that they really don't know anything about at all. and i think it's important for us to remember that period of history. to remember the time when the physical barrier divided people from the same country into two different societies, and to remember the differences between those societies. east germany is an example of a surveillance state. we often talk about that balance between security and freedom. and east germany's an example where the emphasis was certainly on security over freedom. and we think it's important for
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people to remember what a state like that was like, what it might have felt like, and all the artifacts in here are giving people a taste of what it might have been like to live in a surveillance state like east germany. we have hundreds of artifacts in this museum. today we've just given a taste with what's in our east cold war berlin. we hope you will come here and visit our other aspects of international espionage. you can watch this or other "american artifacts" programs at any time by visiting our website, first ladies influence an image on american history tv.
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examines the private lives and public roles of the nation's first ladies through interviews with top historians. tonight, we look at edith roosevelt and helen taft. edith roosevelt along with her husband, theodore, became the first president and first lady to travel abroad while in office when they made a trip to panama. helen taft was the first first lady to ride with the president in the inaugural parade. watch "first ladies influence & image" tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span3. every saturday night, american history tv takes you to college classrooms around the country for "lectures in history." >> why do you all know who lizzie borden is and raise your hand if you had ever heard of this murder, the gene harris murder trial, before this class. >> the deepest cause where we'll find the true meaning of revolution was in this
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transformation that took place in the minds of the american people. >> we're going to talk about both of these sides of this story here. right? the tools, the techniques, of slave owner power. we'll also talk about the tools and techniques of power that were practiced by enslaved people. >> watch history professors lead discussions with their students on topics ranging from the american revolution to september 11th. "lectures in history" on c-span3. every saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv and "lectures in history" is available as a podcast. find it where you listen to podcasts. the senate health committee holds a hearing tuesday to get an update on the coronavirus response and plans to re-open the u.s. economy. witnesses include white house coronavirus task force members dr. stephen hahn, dr. anthony fauci and dr. robert redfield. live coverage begins at 10:00
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eastern on c-span3, online at, or listen live on the free c-span radio app. richard schroeder is a former cia officer and author of "the foundation of the cia: harry truman, the missouri gang and the origins of the cold war." up next he talks about the history of u.s. intelligence gathering through world war ii and details how and why president truman established the cia in 1947. mr. schroeder also tells the story of the missouri gang, allies from president truman, who were instrumental in the creation of the ci aa. the international spy museum recorded this event in november 2017. >> we're very fortunate to have an old friend here with us here tonight, rick schroeder, former officer with the cia's clandestine service. held senior management positions in science and technology as well as the office of congressional a


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